Here at Science of People we are constantly asked: How can I be more successful? We set out to answer this question by scouring the research to uncover the secrets to the success of the most successful people.
Let’s see how they optimize their lives and achieve their goals.
1 it’s not a question of IQ
The smartest people are the most successful, aren’t they? Not quite… Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, says it might actually be an advantage not to be a genius.
When he studied elite chess players, he found that there was no correlation between IQ and success. In fact, players with a lower IQ were often following successfully. It’s shocking, but not when you consider the reason why.
Players with lower IQs felt at a disadvantage due to their extraordinary lack of intelligence, so they worked harder to master their skills. During this time, a lot of naturally intelligent players lost because they felt they didn’t have to go to great lengths to win. They failed because the effort beats the IQ.
Angela Lee Duckworth noticed the same when predicting the success of individuals in various contexts. She gave an excellent TED talk on how courage — the willingness to work consistently hard through difficult scenarios — and not IQ, is the most accurate indicator of success.
The other key that sets successful individuals apart is their ability to understand people. A study conducted by the Carnegie Foundation found that 85% of a person’s success is based on their interpersonal skills. For this reason, we know that PQ (people’s intelligence) is more important than IQ.
Ask yourself: do you work well with others? If your answer is not very good, then you need to focus on improving your social skills and building better relationships.
Fortunately, you find this out on your own as you study Science of People, and we have plenty of great resources that will give you the tools you need to increase your PQ.
2 success is relative
Wikipedia founder Larry Sanger created it as a nonprofit association. Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, relies primarily on donations.
What does success mean to you? Success doesn’t always mean money or fame.
You define your own success.
Whatever gives you the most personal growth is your own success.
In my amazing interview with Guy Raz, author of the new book How I Built This, we talked about what exactly goes into making the recipes for success.
I highly recommend that you watch our interview together. I learned TONS from this successful expert, and I’m sure you will too!
3 Become a master at 10,000 hours
Another key to success is consistent practice. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell studied successful people and found that the world’s best experts are not naturally skilled or talented. They simply practice several hours each week until they reach the 10,000-hour mastery point.
The theory is that once someone practices a task for 10,000 hours, they become an expert because they have invested enough time to develop an extraordinary ability to perform the task.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It does, and that’s why it distinguishes thebest-performingg people from those who never break past mediocre skill levels. People committed to greatness have the discipline to devote the necessary hours to mastery.
Do you set aside time to be an expert at what you do?
Remember: just as you won’t become an expert overnight, you don’t have to drastically change your life to become one, either. Simply committing to spending a few extra hours per week improving your skills can set you on the path to success. Don’t stop practicing.
4 learn to read hidden emotions
As you spend more time improving your technical skills, don’t forget to master your relationship skills as well. One of the most effective strategies for understanding people is learning to read microexpressions. These are unconscious facial expressions that reveal inner emotions.
Today I want to teach you to recognize contempt, because it is the most devious.
This is what contempt looks like:
5 succeed in failing
The most successful people embrace the possibility of failure. Why? Because to fail means to learn, and learning is the only way to improve. It’s how you react to failure that determines whether it’s negative or not.
Dan Coyle, the bestselling author of The Talent Code, says that if you set big goals for yourself, you should only be successful in 50-80% of your attempts. It sounds counterintuitive, but just knowing that you might fail increases your chances of success, as your fear will motivate you to work harder and develop more creative solutions when obstacles arise.
When you fail, do a postmortem on your failures. Critically assess the cause of the failure and brainstorm how to avoid doing the same again. Save your ideas in a failure file, so you can turn your mistakes into learning.
6 Find a mentor who will hold you accountable
So far we’ve looked at how hard work success is — and it is — but what we haven’t touched on yet is that you don’t achieve success on your own.
Have you ever heard the saying? If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ?
It’s a great way to describe success because you can’t accomplish amazing things without the help of others.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Whether you’re trying to be a better performing parent or a better performing CEO, you need to find at least one person to be your mentor and accountability partner.
Having a mentor allows you to learn from the experiences of someone who has been through many of the same challenges you face and who is doing well at levels you hope to achieve. It doesn’t matter who they are as long as they inspire you and push you to be better.
7 powerful body language will fuel confidence
You can practice hundreds of hours a month, have the best mentor in the world, and be a master at understanding others, but unless you are physically confident you will have a hard time being successful.
Winners, leaders and alphas have winning body language. This means that they take up physical space. Why? When we take up space, we feel like we belong to our space. This sense of belonging gives us pride in believing that we can be successful.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that when athletes win a race, the more expansive their body language is, and when athletes lose a race, the more their body language is defeated. Want to look like a winner? Roll your shoulders back, plant your feet firmly, open your chest and keep your head up. The more confident your body looks, the more confident you will be. This is called high body power – taking up space with your body.